Is the Beauty Business Recession Proof? (Guest Post)

We’re delighted to welcome our guest blogger and industry commentator Stirling Murray, who shares his views on the current state of the beauty industry.

What is it about the beauty business? The recession has been a nightmare with its effects still playing out and yet all indicators - anecdotal or qualitative - indicate the UK beauty business is in good if not better shape then ever. The CEW's latest research shows the industry with a value of over £15bn and employing almost a million workers. Not bad for lotions, potions and scents and home beauty electrical appliances - which according to Mintel are set to take off in Europe.Mintel call this trend, combined with the latest advances in anti-cellulite and anti -ageing formulations, "Kinetique" - fuelling high ticket retail and web growth.

The lipstick factor - where women (and men?) in a climate of austerity will spend money on a beauty product even though they may forego an expensive purchase such as a TV or new car is - a well documented economic phenomenon. The lipstick factor kept the market buoyant doing the recession but there is much more at play in the dynamics of the beauty business.

The ever increasing focus on looking younger where 60 is the new 40, the increasingly influence of celebrity culture - look at the impact of The Only Way is Essex - is driving our obsession. The women on TOWIE and their Barbie Doll looks are driving the demand for all things beauty. And the guys with their perfectly styled hair, permanent tans, and smooth skins are setting the benchmarks for how males might want to look. Men are really getting in on the act of grooming with 53% believing that grooming is expected and, more importantly, necessary.

And it's so easy to buy beauty online now. 1 in 5 women now will buy on line*. That's 20 out of a hundred. 10 years ago it was 0 out of a 100. Men - who are twice as likely to purchase beauty on line than women – can thank on-line retailers who have taken all the hassle out of buying.

The beauty business is as ever dynamic, resourceful full of new ideas and innovations, is right up there with fashion in its immediacy and I no longer have to find a parking space to buy my favourite moisturiser! No wonder it's so resilient to economic cycles.

Stirling has over 30 years' international experience of building business and brands in the global beauty industry. He runs The Red Tree, a consultancy specialising in beauty and personal care markets that also manages brands on behalf of international companies.

*Report by Canvass